- U.S. leadership remains No. 1 in approval ratings worldwide
- Russia gets highest disapproval rating to date
- Russia and former Soviet Republics sour on U.S., EU and Germany
This article is based on the findings from Gallup's first-ever report -- Rating World Leaders: What People Worldwide Think of the U.S., China, Russia, the EU and Germany -- on the status of how the world rates the leadership of five of the world's major powers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Russia in 2014 earned the lowest approval ratings globally for the eighth consecutive year and posted the highest disapproval ratings it has received to date. U.S. leadership received the highest approval rating in the world, with the median 45% approval topping ratings of the leadership of the European Union, Germany, Russia and China -- as it has most years since 2009.
For the past six years, the U.S. has typically received the highest approval ratings and Russia the lowest. But what the trend line does not show is that countries affiliated with the West, particularly NATO countries, soured on Russia dramatically. And, at the same time, Russians and people in many of its former republics -- chiefly Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- all felt much more negatively about the leadership of the U.S., the EU and Germany.
Russia's ratings dropped by 10 percentage points or more in 21 countries, nine of which are members of NATO. Despite its already low approval ratings, no other world power Gallup examined had this many sizable declines. Additionally, majorities of residents in 41 countries disapproved of the job performance of the leadership of Russia -- nearly three times the number of countries where majorities disapproved of U.S. leadership.
High disapproval of Russia's leadership was centralized in Western countries. Many EU member countries and Canada reported their highest disapproval ratings of Russia's leadership since the beginning of Gallup tracking. In fact, the nine countries with the highest disapproval ratings of Russia are all in Europe.
Russians, in turn, largely feel the same way about the leadership of the EU, U.S. and Germany. Russians gave the U.S. and the EU the lowest approval ratings in the world and the highest disapproval ratings. Russians' disapproval of the U.S. nearly doubled from 42% in 2013 to 82% in 2014 and their disapproval of the EU's leadership more than doubled from 26% to 70% in that same period. Germany's highest disapproval ratings are a statistical tie between the Palestinian Territories (67%) and Russia (66%).
But even as relations frayed with the West, Russians looked East with more favor. Russians' approval of China's leadership jumped to a record 42%, likely reflecting the $400 billion gas deal the country inked with China in May 2014.
Russia also was not the only country that soured on the West's leadership. Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all reported the highest disapproval ratings for the U.S., the EU and Germany in 2014 than at any previous point in the past that Gallup has measured.
The deteriorating leadership ratings between the West and Russia reflect the tense divisions over the Ukraine crisis in the last year. However, the growing attitudinal divide between the former Cold War adversaries does not bode well for future negotiations. Recent research suggests that the way the people in one country feel about another country can actually affect foreign policy. While it does not seem like the relationship between Russia and the West is anywhere near what it was during the Cold War years, the emerging gulf in attitudes among their respective publics is troubling.
The data in this article were generated from Gallup Analytics.
Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in each country or area. This report provides annual results of leadership approval of the U.S., Germany, the European Union, China and Russia from 2007 through 2014. Throughout 2014, residents were asked to rate U.S., German and Russian leadership in 135 countries or areas, and residents in 136 countries or areas were asked to rate the EU and China. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error ranged from ± 2.5 percentage points to ± 5.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set Details.